Did These Superstars Ever Win an NBA Championship?

By: Gavin Thagard

Kobe Bryant played beside Shaquille O'Neal during the first part of his career. Though the two had success on the court, Bryant wanted to take over as the leader of the team and forced O'Neal out of town.

Karl Malone was never known as a great jump shooter. When he got the ball in the post, however, he was sure to deliver a bucket, earning the nickname, "The Mailman."

Larry Bird won three straight NBA MVP awards from 1984 through 1986. During those years, Bird never averaged fewer than 24 points per game.

Despite being one of the best point guards in the league, Isiah Thomas was left off the 1992 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team. Michael Jordan played a part in keeping Thomas off the team because of their rivalry in the NBA.

Charles Barkley played for three different teams throughout his NBA career. He played in the All-Star game with all three teams, earning a total of 11 All-Star appearances.

Elgin Baylor joined the front office of the Los Angeles Clippers in 1986. He stayed in that position until 2008 and even won an NBA Executive of the Year award in 2006.

From 2000 through 2002, Shaquille O'Neal won three titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. O'Neal won one more title with the Miami Heat in 2006 before his career began to decline.

Michael Jordan left the NBA in the middle of his prime to play baseball. Had he not left the league, Jordan could have won eight straight NBA championships.

Patrick Ewing was drafted out of Georgetown as the first pick in the 1985 NBA draft. Other notable players from that draft class include Chris Mullen, Charles Oakley, and Karl Malone.

John Stockton led the league in assists nine times throughout his NBA career. In the 1989-90 season, Stockton set the single-season record for assists when he averaged 14.5 assists per game.

Lebron James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers out of Akron, Ohio. However, unable to win in his home state, Lebron left the Cavs in 2010 to join the Miami Heat.

Wilt Chamberlain finished his NBA career as the all-time leader in rebounds. No player in the modern era has come within 5,000 rebounds of tying his record.

Allen Iverson guided the 76ers to the 2001 NBA Finals. Overmatched, they lost in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Earvin "Magic" Johnson won his first Finals MVP in his rookie season in 1980. He's still the only player to win the Finals MVP as a rookie.

Bill Russell won 11 NBA championships throughout his 13-year​ career in the NBA. Russell retired after winning a championship in 1969 when he served as a player-coach.

Dominique Wilkins is one of only five players to win the Slam Dunk Contest twice. He defeated Michael Jordan in 1985 in one of the closest contests in NBA history.

George Gervin played for the Spurs when the ABA and NBA merged in 1976. Gervin would continue to play for the Spurs in the NBA until 1985.

Moses Malone led the 76ers past the Lakers in the 1983 NBA Finals. Averaging 18 rebounds and more than 25 points per game, Malone was named the Finals MVP.

Jerry West became an NBA executive after leaving the NBA. He's credited with helping build the Golden State roster that won NBA championships in 2015 and 2017.

After leaving the NBA, Tracy McGrady had a very short baseball career where he played in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. McGrady played only a few months as a pitcher for the Sugar Land Skeeters.

Hakeem Olajuwon was a Nigerian-born player who spent his entire career, except for one season, with the Houston Rockets. Olajuwon played college basketball for the Houston Cougars.

Reggie Miller was famous for his back and forth banner with Knicks' super fan Spike Lee. Miller played for the Pacers and forged a rivalry with the Knicks throughout the '90s.

David Robinson had one of the most accomplished careers of any NBA player. Not only was he an NBA champion, but he also led the league in points, blocks, and rebounds at different points in his career.

Steve Nash spent his last few seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers where he hoped to win a title alongside Kobe Bryant. However, injuries took their toll on Nash, and he barely played during those years.

Russell Westbrook is undoubtedly one of the most explosive players to ever play in the NBA. However, he's often accused by analysts of being too ball-dominant and overly aggressive.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with six NBA MVP awards. That's one more than the next closest player in all time awards.

Carmelo Anthony spent the 2017-18 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Statistically, it was the worse season of his career, so the team parted ways with Anthony at the end of the season.

Oscar Robertson spent his first 10 NBA seasons with the Cincinnati Royals. However, Robertson never won a title until he joined the Milwaukee Bucks in 1970.

Every player for the Spurs knows that Tim Duncan was the leader in the locker room throughout his NBA career, which began in 1997. While other stars had farewell tours during their final year in the league, Tim Duncan quietly retired at the end of the 2015-16 season.

In his prime, Vince Carter easily averaged more than 20 points per game. Injuries eventually slowed the athlete down, but he continues to play into his early 40s.

Dirk Nowitzki set an NBA record in the 2011 NBA Playoffs when he hit 24 straight free throws. The record came in Game 1 of the Western Conference​ Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Kevin Garnett made nine NBA All-Defensive First Teams throughout his career. In 2008, he was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

Stephen Curry set the NBA single-season record for three pointers in the 2014-15 season. Curry broke his own record the following season.

Much of Bernard King's career was spent injured. However, when he was on the court, King averaged 22.5 points per game.

Dwyane Wade was drafted fifth overall in the 2003 NBA draft. Players like Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh were drafted in front of Wade.

Walt Frazier spent most of his NBA career with the New York Knicks. After he left the NBA, the Knicks retired Frazier's No. 10 jersey.

Chris Webber played college basketball at Michigan where he was part of the Fab Five. He famously called a timeout during the NCAA Championship Game even though the team didn't have any left, costing Michigan the title.

Julius Erving helped popularize the dunk in the NBA. Before he came along, dunks were usually reserved for big men who were only a few steps away from the basket.

Dikembe Mutombo finished his career in the NBA as the second all-time in shot blocks. The only player ahead of him is Hakeem Olajuwon.

Alex English was named the NBA scoring champion in 1982-83 after averaging 28.4 points per game. English finished his career averaging 21.5 points per game.

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About This Quiz

What does it take for an NBA player to go from a star to a superstar? Is it their ability to put the ball in the hoop? Points are one of the most valuable aspects of basketball after all. Maybe it's a balanced player who is capable of doing everything on the court, from rebounding to shot blocking, or perhaps, it's how many All-Star appearances the player has. No matter what it takes to become a superstar in the NBA, there is one thing that separates even the greatest players who ever laced up, and that's an NBA championship. 

NBA superstars reach another level when they win a ring. A title pushes a superstar from being one of the greatest players of his generation to being one of the greatest players of all-time. It's what every player is ultimately working for, after all, because stats and individual awards can only go so far. 

How well do you know the superstars who have played in the NBA? Do you know which of them won a championship during their time in the league? Here's a quiz where you can test your NBA knowledge. If you're up for the challenge, get started and see if you can get a superstar score on this quiz! 

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